Effects of Attentional Focus on Muscular Endurance: A Meta-Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 22;19(1):89. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010089.


Several studies explored the effects of attentional focus on resistance exercise, but their analysed outcomes most commonly involved surface electromyography variables. Therefore, the effects of attentional focus on resistance exercise performance remain unclear. The aim of this review was to perform a meta-analysis examining the acute effects of external focus vs. internal focus vs. control on muscular endurance. Five databases were searched to find relevant studies. The data were pooled in a random-effects meta-analysis. In the analysis for external vs. internal focus of attention, there were seven comparisons with 14 study groups. In the analyses for external focus vs. control and internal focus vs. control, there were six comparisons with 12 study groups. An external focus of attention enhanced muscular endurance when compared with an internal focus (Cohen's d: 0.58; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.34 and 0.82) and control (Cohen's d: 0.42; 95% CI: 0.08 and 0.76). In the analysis for internal focus vs. control, there was no significant difference between the conditions (Cohen's d: -0.19; 95% CI: -0.45 and 0.07). Generally, these results remained consistent in the subgroup analyses for upper-body vs. lower-body exercises. From a practical perspective, the results presented in this review suggest that individuals should use an external focus of attention for acute enhancement of muscular endurance.

Keywords: motor learning; resistance training; strength endurance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Endurance